From Fred Itua, Abuja
DESPITE denials, Senate, yesterday, passed for First Reading, a bill to establish grazing reserves for cattle across the country.
The new law, National Grazing Reserves Agency Bill, 2016, is sponsored by Rabiu Kwankwaso, a former governor of Kano State.
Amid opposition from Nigerians and lawmakers, the bill, which had earlier been presented in the House of Representatives, was read in the Senate for the first time, yesterday.
The version in the House of Representatives, sponsored by Sunday Karimi from Kogi State, passed the crucial Second Reading few months ago.
His colleague, Sadiq Ibrahim sponsored the National Grazing Reserve (Establishment) Bill, 2016, which provides for the establishment of the National Grazing Reserve Commission which shall have power to among other things establish, at least, one cattle reserve in each state of the Federation.
The commission, when established, will manage, control and maintain cattle reserves; prescribe the persons who may be licenced to use the grazing reserves and determine the type and number of stock permitted therein; prescribe the manner in which the grazing reserves may be put to use; fix charges; maintain and ensure, in co-operation with the Police, security of lives and property within the reserve; provide for and issue grazing permits to persons grazing within the reserves; develop infrastructure and basic amenities such as clinic, schools, etc; demarcate the land boundaries of the grazing reserves and prosecute persons who graze outside them and other offenders of the regulations of the commission.
Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe had, in April, kicked against the bill and sought to confirm whether it was before the Senate. Then, Senate President, Bukola Saraki assured him no such bill existed until it landed in the chamber yesterday.
The grazing reserves bill is being introduced in the National Assembly against the backdrop of attacks on communities by herdsmen across the country.
Killings in Nimbo, Enugu State and Agatu, in Benue State have been linked to errant herdsmen.
In the Seventh Senate, and in a bid to curb violent clashes between herdsmen and communities, a bill was sponsored by Senator Zainab Kure but, it was rejected. The Sun